2017- Changing geographies

A series of portraits, “Changing geographies” is about a gaze which shifts depending on who is looking. Are images found in archives, books, on internet, postcards, turist snap shots a true representation of a person portrayed? Are they authentic? Who decides on that? Are they faking, mimicking and copying the past or do they represent the present? And as such, do these portraits represent a certain tradition and customs which one can identity with in the twentieth century? Who can do that? A person portrayed, the one taking a picture or the one looking at the picture? Do these portraits represent a turist gaze and something exotic or something local? Exotic or local for whom? Does only western values and perspectives count? Who is in the position to jude which tradition is “better" and who owns tradition? Is cultural heritage fixed within a certain time only or can it grow freely with time allowing “outside” and new traditions, customs, design, language to be part of it?

Western culture defines minorities and ethnic groups from a colonial point of view. What we have learned at the school, from our history, from our parents and from media makes us superior (we think) of the truths and description of others, those who we do not identify us with. 
I search internet, museum archives and flee markets for traditional portraits of women in folk costumes. Some of them idealise and shift reality depending on who took the picture. Some portraits 
look like a vacation snapshot. are part of a ethnographical research or a documentation of customs and traditions already lost and forgotten, some are used in tourism-related marketing. In my research I come across a modern representation of traditional customs and as well portraits taken many years ago, copied and reconstructed. I make a new copy of an already copied image. I choose portraits randomly from all around the world but I often come across similar patterns and styles. Most of the costumes are elaborately made for both men and women, who perform traditional rituals. The costumes cover most of the body and include painted or tattooed face or decorated masks. Closely related traditions are found throughout the world. 


© Aleksandra Jarosz Laszlo 2020